Redskins

NFL suspends Bucs CB Talib 4 games

NFL suspends Bucs CB Talib 4 games

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Tampa Bay's defense was jolted Saturday when the NFL suspended cornerback Aqib Talib four games without pay for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

The fifth-year pro said in a statement released by the team that he took an Adderall pill without a prescription ``around the beginning of training camp.'' He will not appeal the ban, which begins Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Talib was the 20th overall pick in the 2008 draft and is one of the team's top defenders with 18 career interceptions. He also will miss games against New Orleans, Minnesota and Oakland, becoming eligible to return to the active roster on Nov. 5, the day after Tampa Bay faces the Raiders.

``I have spoken with Aqib, and he knows that he made a poor decision that let our team down,'' Bucs first-year coach Greg Schiano said. ``Certainly, other players will have the opportunity to step up while he serves this suspension.''

It's the second suspension of Talib's career.

The 26-year-old was suspended without pay for the 2010 regular-season opener and also fined one additional game check for violating the NFL's personal-conduct policy. That discipline stemmed from an altercation with a St. Petersburg cab driver during training camp in August 2009.

``I made a mistake by taking an Adderall pill without a prescription. This is especially regrettable because, for the past several months, with Coach Schiano's help, I've worked very hard to improve myself - professionally and personally - as a player and a man,'' Talib said.

``I am truly sorry to my teammates, coaches and Buccaneers fans, and I'm disappointed in myself. I will work diligently every day of this suspension to stay in top football shape and be ready to help this team in the second half of the season,'' Talib added. ``I have chosen to be immediately accountable for the situation I put myself in, which is why I will not exercise my appeal rights and will begin serving the suspension immediately.''

The Bucs placed Talib, who has one interception and a team-leading seven passes defensed, on the reserve/suspended list. Defensive end Markus White was promoted from the practice squad to fill the roster opening.

There was no immediate announcement on who'll step into Talib's spot in the starting lineup.

Fourth-year pro E.J. Biggers, who sat out the first three games of the season because of injury, and seldom-used third-year pro Myron Lewis are listed behind him on the depth chart.

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Redskins G Arie Kouandjio likely out for the seasons

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USA Today Sports Images

Redskins G Arie Kouandjio likely out for the seasons

The news about Arie Kouandjio’s quad injury didn’t sound good when NBC Sports Washington broke it a couple of weeks ago. It didn’t sound any better when Jay Gruden said that they were seeking a second opinion. 

And now we have word that Kouandjio will be out for the season, per multiple media reports. While there was some initial hope that he might be able to play at some point this season, he is likely to be put on injured reserve soon. 

The corresponding move is expected to be the signing of guard Isaiah Williams, per JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington. He spent training camp with the Redskins in 2016 and 2017 before being released in the final cuts. Last year he also spent time with the Chiefs and the Colts but he has yet to appear in an NFL game. 

At worst, the Redskins have lost their starter at left guard. Kouandjio was set to compete with Shawn Lauvao for that job. Lauvao, who has been the starter at left guard going into the season for each of the last four years, would have been tough to unseat, but the 26-year-old Kouandjio may have had the inside track.

And at best, the Redskins lost experienced depth. Last year, when injuries hit hard along the offensive line, Kouandjio was re-signed and he started six games. It’s tough to lose experienced depth before the players even put pads on.

We will see if the Redskins make a move to shore up the guard position. Over the next couple of weeks, teams will be evaluating their veteran players and their rookies to see if they have younger and cheaper options. That could lead to some serviceable players getting released or some quality options being put on the trading block. 

The Redskins likely are set to get four compensatory draft picks in 2019, which would give them a total of 11 selections. They certainly could afford to deal one of those picks if they are offered a chance to upgrade at left guard. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- The draft: Redskins should get 4 additional picks in 2019 draft
- Schedule series: Gotta beat the Cowboys

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Braden Holtby saved his best performance of the season for when the Caps needed it most

Braden Holtby saved his best performance of the season for when the Caps needed it most

Braden Holtby has been largely overshadowed in the headlines of the Eastern Conference Final by Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

After two games, Vasilevskiy was one of the bigger storylines for how poorly he played in giving up 10 goals in just five periods. The next three games after that, the storyline changed to how well he was suddenly playing and how he had helped the Lightning steal two wins in Washington and take a 3-2 series lead after Game 5.

Holtby was not mentioned much. His play was not the reason the Caps went up 2-0 or the reason they went down 3-2.

But if the Caps hoped to force a Game 7, they needed him to at least be a reason why they won Game 6.

Holtby responded in a big way. With his team facing elimination, Holtby registered his first shutout of both the regular season and the playoffs.

"It's a perfect time," Devante Smith-Pelly said after the game. "He's been great all year. Obviously an up-and-down year for him personally, but the way he's bounced back, he's been amazing all throughout the playoffs."

Holtby is now just the seventh goalie in NHL history to record his first shutout of the season in a game in which his team faced elimination.

Holtby, however, was not concerned with the stats or the shutout.

"The only reason it’s good is we won," Holtby said of his shutout performance. "Aside from that, it’s just good for [the media], I guess you can write about it. But for us it’s just that W."

Vasilevskiy made a number of jaw-dropping saves, especially in the first period, but Holtby matched him save for save as both teams battled for the first goal. With the score knotted at zero, Holtby made a toe save on Anthony Cirelli on a 2-on-1 opportunity to keep the Lightning off the board. He really upped his game in the third period as Tampa Bay made a late push to tie it. He turned aside 10 shots that frame including a nifty snag on Nikita Kucherov and a glorious glove save on Ondrej Palat.

Holtby's performance ensured the Caps would live to fight another day...for now.

As the series shifts back to Tampa Bay, Washington will again be facing elimination. This time, however, so will their opponents.

Anything can happen in a Game 7. In a winner-take-all game, it may come down to who has the better goalie on Wednesday and Holtby seems to be picking a good time to up his game.

"Braden has been the backbone of our hockey club," Barry Trotz said. "You can’t go anywhere without goaltending and he’s been solid. ... Braden is a true pro, he works on his game, he finds ways to make a difference and he does."

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